I’m working on the spanish flu series so this is going to be really, really short.
WASHINGTON – Justice David Souter is planning to retire after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court, giving President Barack Obama his first chance to fill a vacancy on the high court.
The White House has been told that Souter will retire in June, when the court finishes its work for the summer, a source familiar with his plans said Thursday night. He almost certainly would remain on the bench until a successor is confirmed.
The source spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for Souter.
Souter had no comment Thursday night, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.
Souter’s retirement is unlikely to alter the ideological balance on the closely divided court because Obama is certain to replace the liberal-leaning justice with someone with similar views.
But the vacancy could lead to another woman on the bench to join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, currently the court’s only woman.
At 69, Souter is much younger than either Ginsburg, 76, or Justice John Paul Stevens, 89, the other two liberal justices whose names have been mentioned as possible retirees. Yet those justices have given no indication they intend to retire soon and Ginsburg said she plans to serve into her 80s despite her recent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Interest groups immediately began gearing up for what could be a grueling battle over a high court vacancy.
“We’re looking for President Obama to choose an eminently qualified candidate who is committed to the core constitutional values, who is committed to justice for all and not just a few,” said Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice.
Some of the names that have been circulating include recently confirmed Elena Kagan; U.S. Appeals Court Judges Sonya Sotomayor, Kim McLane Wardlaw, Sandra Lea Lynch and ; and , chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Men who have been mentioned as potential nominees include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein and U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo of Chicago.
Souter earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard sandwiched around a stay at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.
I wonder what they offered him?